Tommy Dorfman has an announcement to make: the actor behind iconic characters in shows like 13 Reasons Why, Jane the Virgin, and Love, Victor is living life as a transgender woman.
In a new TIME interview conducted by Detransition, Baby author (and 2021 them. Now List honoree) Torrey Peters, the Hollywood style icon and editorial photographer said, “For a year now, I have been privately identifying as a woman — a trans woman.”
But don’t refer to this public declaration as “coming out,” a notion that the actress seems to slightly reject. “It’s funny to think about coming out, because I haven’t gone anywhere,” she told Peters. Instead, according to Dorfman, the decision to disclose details about her gender identity in this decidedly public manner was more about having “the freedom to control [her] own narrative.” As pointed out by Peters, Dorfman had been using social media to document her transition for a year — even if she had never explicitly addressed it as such. The actress was creating a “diaristic time capsule” on Instagram, but after contending with unprompted “discourse about [her] body” in a way that was beginning to feel “overwhelming,” she decided to speak up.
“I view today as a reintroduction to me as a woman, having made a transition medically,” Dorfman said. “Coming out is always viewed as this grand reveal, but I was never not out. Today is about clarity: I am a trans woman. My pronouns are she/her.”
Dorfman insists that she won’t be changing her name, as she holds the name “Tommy” close to her heart; she was named after her mom’s brother, who died just a month after she was born. “I feel very connected to that name, to an uncle who held me as he was dying,” she says.
Dorfman also opened up about how certain aspects of her romantic life were changing as a result of her transition. “I was in a nine-year relationship [with a gay man] in which I was thought of as a more male-bodied person…but we’ve been learning that as a trans woman, what I’m interested in is not necessarily reflected in a gay man,” she told TIME. “So we’ve had incredible conversations to redefine our relationship as friends.”
But some aspects of her transition journey have not been as straightforward. “It’s impossible for me to separate my personal and professional transition, because my body and my face are linked to my career,” the actress said, stressing that her most recognizable role was playing “a bitchy gay poet on a soap opera” (as Ryan Shaver on 13 Reasons Why). “I feared that by actively transitioning in my personal life, I would lose whatever career I’ve been told I’m supposed to have,” she admitted. “But I’m no longer interested in playing ‘male’ characters — except for maybe in a ‘Cate Blanchett playing Bob Dylan’ way.”
Thankfully, Dorfman’s career doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all. The actress praised Lena Dunham for giving her her “first role as a girl” in the Girls creator’s upcoming film Sharp Stick, noting that the experience was “so exciting and validating.” She’s also set to add another skill to her resume: that of director, as she takes the reins on an upcoming adaptation of Mason Deaver’s debut novel I Wish You All the Best. Following a nonbinary high school senior who is forced to move in with their sister and her new husband after being kicked out by their parents, the young adult story focuses on a new friendship (with the potential to become something more) that blossoms with a fellow student.
The project certainly sounds like a perfect fit for the burgeoning multi-hyphenate — one that seems to acutely reflect her declaration that her transition is “an evolution of Tommy. I’m becoming more Tommy.” And with so much in the pipeline — she’s also set to star in the upcoming Channel 4 limited series Fracture — it’s exciting to know that we’ll be seeing a lot more of the talented performer. As she says, “All I can do now is look to a future where I am, hopefully, just radically honest. That’s the person I am becoming.”
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